Out of the Jungle

One of the first of its kind in the United States, H. Jay Dinshah’s revolutionary 1967 book invites readers to consider Ahimsa (nonviolence) as the way out of “a jungle worse than any devised by nature.”

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How is it that we claim to be the highest type of creature, yet act in a manner that would shame any reasonably decent denizen of the jungle?

Out of the Jungle: The Way of Dynamic Harmlessness shows how the practice of Ahimsa (nonviolence) has the potential to lead humankind out of the darkened jungle in which we reside and toward the light of freedom and justice for all.

“It is a jungle, so they act like the worst of beasts. And in doing, they influence others around them to act in similar manner, until everyone so influenced turns that part of the world where they live into a jungle worse than any devised by nature. Then they lament that only the ‘law of the jungle’ can apply to life, that civilization is governed only by ‘jungle law,’ that ‘kill or be killed,’ rob or be robbed, and exploit or be exploited, are the valid rules that one must have to get by in this life. They make a miserable world for themselves and others who fall for this line of ‘reasoning.’ But they never seem to understand that it is of their own making.”

Building on the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer, Out of the Jungle advocates for what Dinshah described as the Pillars of Ahimsa:

  • – Abstinence from Animal Products;
  • – Harmlessness with Reverence for Life (from Schweitzer);
  • – Integrity of Thought, Word, and Deed;
  • – Mastery over Oneself;
  • – Service to Humanity, Nature, and Creation;
  • – Advancement of Understanding and Truth (applying Gandhian principles of Truth)

Out of The Jungle addresses the vast spectrum of ways in which Ahimsa can improve the life of each individual as well as bringing justice to our wider planetary community. Dinshah argues that in order to truly embody this concept, we must embrace nonviolence in all aspects of life; from what we eat and wear, to the products we use on our bodies and in our homes.

“We do not use animal flesh, of course, because of the killing… But it is less well known that the production of milk requires animals to be artificially bred, fattened, and killed: the innocent calves that are born to keep their mothers in lactation (giving milk), and are destined for a short and sad life before meeting their ‘destiny’ as platefuls of veal… In the dairy industry, as in all phases of animal husbandry, everything must turn a profit or it must ‘go’ (to the slaughter) and the sooner, the better…”

Out of the Jungle encourages the reader to look closely at what humanity has become and to recognize that we have the ability to step out of the predatory mentality, and in so doing, envision a new future where violence is a rarity instead of the norm. Veganism is presented as an integral part of opening up to a life of Ahimsa, as it is only through veganism that this powerful concept can be appropriately understood and realized. 

The vegan protests, with all his heart, mind and soul, against not only the manner in which the killing is done, not only against the killing itself, but against the whole selfish and ignoble system of breeding, raising, penning, castrating, doping, disrupting of families, enslaving, and of course, the final scene in the whole unholy drama: the killing act itself… The vegan recognizes the impossibility of separating the cruelty and killing from the business of keeping animals, or obtaining animal products on a sound and profitable basis in a modern competitive society. Thus the vegan resolves to ‘root out the whole forest’ of cruelty and suffering, not merely chop down a single tree!”

For all who are interested in the principal of Ahimsa, or philosophy in general, or for those seeking a deeper understanding of the power and significance of veganism, Dinshah’s book is short and to the point. It is an easy yet stimulating read which uses logic and reason for impact, rather than graphic descriptions, and illuminating the path of nonviolence as the way toward a livable future for humanity.

“Vegan aims are much more than just ‘animal welfare’, with a bit more feed for the slaves, cleaner cages for the vivisected, or another box of bandages to plaster over the terminal cancer that is animal slavery and exploitation. In short we are abolitionists, though non-violent ones, for how we accomplish something is every bit as important as that it is done (and often more so).

In this, there are some parallels between modern vegans and the uncompromising human-slavery abolitionists of the 19th century: those human-rights pioneers were not content to press for reforming the institution of slavery that they perceived as unjust, rotten and corrupt from the roots up. They did not just petition for lighter chains, and anesthetic during whipping or maiming, or campaign for a minimum age for separation of the young from their parents, or demand a more humane workday.

Though presumably aware of varying conditions and side issues of slavery, they were not content with merely crying for more just and humane servitude, more compassionate slavery, or other contradictions in terms. They were not turned from the only logical goal by rationalizations that this cotton was supposedly picked by slaves whose kindly owner gave them enough to eat, or that tobacco was grown by slaves whose God-fearing master had scruples about whipping on Sundays.”

The vegan community lost a pioneer and a powerhouse when Jay Dinshah passed in the year 2000, after a full four decades spent spreading the word of veganism. He was widely-known for his tireless efforts in service to the vegan movement in the form of not only his writings, but also his lectures, for which he traveled to five continents and visited 19 different countries. He is most well-known for having founded the American Vegan Society with his wife Freya in 1960. 



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© Gentle World 2023. Gentle World is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) educational organization, helping to build a more peaceful society by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making the transition. EIN: 59-1999433